The original art for the first appearance of Wolverine of Marvel’s X-Men, will be auctioned in May to benefit the Hero Initiative, a non-profit organization that aides comic book creators in times of financial need.
Heritage Auctions announced that the artwork drawn by Herb Trimpe 40 years ago for “The Incredible Hulk” No. 180 was long thought lost until the person he gave it to back in 1983 contacted them about selling it.
Todd Hignite, Heritage’s vice president, said he was astounded to see the full-page art in such pristine condition.
“I went out and met with the owner and it wasn’t until I was there and actually saw it that I fully believed it. It’s a pretty amazing thing.”
The owner, who wished to remain anonymous, received the art as a gift from Trimpe. A comic collector, he brought some issues drawn by Trimpe, hoping for an autograph. Trimpe obliged. As he left, the artist told him to wait.
“He ran back upstairs to his studio and he came with this page of artwork in his hands,” Hignite said of ink, graphite and blue drawing with the inscription, “Ben — Best Wishes Herb Trimpe.”
As Wolverine’s appeal and popularity grew — first in comics, then on animated TV shows and, finally, as played by Hugh Jackman in the ongoing X-Men film franchise — issues featuring the character jumped in value. So, too, has original art.
“He’s aware that the market for comic art has gone up to such an incredible amount,” Hignite said of the piece. “He was just kind of nervous having the artwork.”
The issue, written by Len Wein and called “And the Wind Howls Wendigo” is valued at $400 in near-mint condition while issue 181, which is the first, full Wolverine story, is valued at $1,800 in near-mint condition.